St Hilda Sea Adventures is a family-run, charter yacht business that offers Scottish island cruises. 2017 was an important milestone: our tenth anniversary of safe and successful small ship cruising. The wooden ketch, St Hilda, was a Scottish-built and designed sail-training vessel and this ex-tall ship was lovingly converted (by company members) specifically for Scottish island and sea loch cruising - there are six warm and comfortable berths for our guests. Our dedicated six-person team operates the vessel and our sales/operations office is based all year round in Portpatrick, Dumfries and Galloway. Winter work is carried out in the Holy Loch Marina, Dunoon, Argyll, where some of our cruises originate.
We offer sailing and Scottish wildlife cruises, from Arran to St Kilda, and operate for April to October from Dunoon or Oban. We aim to share our knowledge and passion for the sea - and life above and below the waves - with our guests who often return and spread the word about our company. In our last ten years of operation we have never had a negative review.
We have dedicated marketing and sales operators and although most of our sales enquiries are web-instigated they are all actively completed by the salesperson - who worked on the vessel for 10 years. She intimately knows St Hilda and the region and always makes a point of developing a relationship with the passengers - understanding their needs, customising itineraries and travel arrangements. Our new, user friendly website thoroughly describes our products and is constantly being updated with travel news and special offers.
What is truly unique about this business is St Hilda, a vessel with an incredible Scottish lineage. Built in 1973 to the highest standard (Lloyds 100A1) at St Monans, Fife, by the internationally famous Millers boatyard, (a family run business with 200 years of wooden boat building) and designed by G.L Watson, the world famous Glasgow based naval architects, who created the world's first yacht design office in 1873 and designed early America's Cup challengers.
Today the sturdy and safe St. Hilda allows us to offer our guests an active adventure holiday in Scotland that is suitable for all ages (7-90 year olds). Passengers, however, can simply just relax and recharge their batteries and let the crew do all the work. We consider it important that our knowledgeable skipper and dedicated chef soon make the passengers feel as if they were on a family holiday in Scotland. Dietary requirements are always observed and the 16.5 metre, 50 ton vessel is always kept clean, welcoming and shipshape.
Passengers can haul up sails, paddle their kayaks, fish for dinner, windsurf, visit seal colonies, shoot lobster pots and on some cruises plankton nets. They look at the incredible wildlife above the waves or below the surface. Dinghy trips take them close to seal colonies and ashore for rock pooling and wonderful walks along wild coasts and high mountains. We are extremely aware of the pristine waters in which we travel and operate a "leave only a wake" and a "look and leave approach" policy to respect the unique environment and wildlife.
Our current Scottish cruises cover many islands and sea lochs of the Outer and Inner Hebrides and range from St Kilda to Arran. We take our vessel through the beautiful Crinan Canal and visit the distilleries of Mull, Jura and Islay on dedicated whisky cruises. As we sail down the Sounds of the Hebrides our customers’ wildlife and sailing experience is second to none. They dine on locally sourced food, we always shop locally, we employ local people (from shipwrights to taxis) and add extensively to the economy of local communities, some of which are remote.
We pay special attention to customers’ feedback either from our internal feedback system (guest book and e-mail follow up) or from independent reviews (i.e from Responsible Travel a company that supply us with many clients).
St Hilda Sea Adventures take place aboard a wonderful yacht with a unique Scottish lineage. The company is a family business and we converted St Hilda for Scottish West Coast cruising. We are all passionate about food, boats, sailing and the natural environment. Today the very spacious accommodation exists as the vessel was converted for a crew of 20 for a crew of eight. Recently younger family members are bringing renewed enthusiasm and digital and marketing skills to the business.
Uniquely, guests on our cruises sail and are taught seamanship by our commercially qualified skipper/instructors. Guests, on some cruises, can collect plankton with professional nets and can observe, film and photograph the wonderful Scottish plankton.
We appeal to all ages with many organised on board activities, from knot tying, plankton studying to sail hauling. Because we only take six guests, and by the very nature of the holiday, solos, groups and families quickly gel and make friendships that often continue beyond the voyage. Our itineraries are planned and are flexible to meet all ages and capabilities with our overall aim to create a memorable sea adventure holiday in Scotland that is both fun and informal.
In winter the vessel undergoes constant improvement and routine maintenance to maintain our high standards. Further en-suite cabins are planned and we already offer a wide range of accommodation (from a roomy en-suite to berths in a shared cabin with adjacent shower and toilet rooms) and, despite offering high fun value per cruise, our cruise prices are very competitive.
In summary, we have a very special, traditional Scottish vessel; a proud Scottish family business; a competitive pricing structure; many flexible itineraries that appeal to all ages and, finally and especially, our unique on-board and ashore activities take place on the wild and spectacular West Coast of Scotland.